Paraguay are heading to Kaiserslautern in Germany tomorrow for their first friendly on European soil since a 2-0 defeat to Greece in Winterthur, Switzerland in June 2010 en route to South Africa.
The match will take place on the 14th of August at 20:45 hs local time (14:45 hs Paraguay Time) in the Fritz Walter Stadium in Kaiserslautern, the scene of Paraguay’s victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the 2006 World Cup.
Genes called up 15 foreign-based players last week and has now completed the 21-man squad with a sprinkling of local lads. The major call up is of course Antonio Sanabria of Barcelona who has made a meteoric rise through the ranks of the Albirroja, in March he played for the U17s in the Sudamericano, in June he was playing for the U20s at the World Cup and now he is in the senior side. His teammate from that U20s side, Jorge Rojas, is also on the plane to Germany the former Cerro winger is now at Benfica and possesses searing pace. As ever there is a strong Mexican contingent with Toluca newboys Richard Ortiz and Pablo Velázquez joining Edgar Benítez as the most represented club, Pablo Aguilar, Paulo da Silva and Osvaldo Martinez are also included.
There are six domestic-based players with Copa Libertadores runner-up Wilson Pittoni chosen along with the captain of that Olimpia side, Salustiano Candia. 1979 Copa América winner, Roberto “Gato” Fernandez will be delighted to see his son Roberto “Gatito” Fernandez called up as the goalkeeper, he’s likely to be the number two behind Villar. The exciting Oscar Romero has also been selected, he’s currently raising eyebrows at Cerro Porteño with some great individual performances. Another youngster in the side is Libertad’s Gustavo Gómez who will surely be a future centre-back for the national team following in the footsteps of greats such as Rogelio Delgado, Carlos Gamarra and Celso Ayala.
Notable absentees are Lucas Barrios, Oscar Cardozo and for the first time I can remember Nelson Haedo Valdez as Victor Genes turns his back on much of the old guard. Antolin Alcaraz is ruled out by injury and in midfield there is no place for Victor Caceres, Marcelo Estigarribia nor Hernan Perez all of whom have been involved in recent squads.
Germany are also set to field a strong side against the albirroja with Low keen to focus on fine-tuning his side for the 2014 World Cup, players such as Thomas Muller and Philip Lahm are back in the side. Miroslav Klose is one short of breaking the national scoring record currently held by Gerd Muller with 68 goals.
FULL PARAGUAY SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Colo Colo, Chile) and Roberto Fernández (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay).
Defenders: Paulo Da Silva (Toluca, Mexico), Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles, Mexico), Lorenzo Melgarejo (Benfica, Portugal), Salustiano Candia (Olimpia, Paraguay), Miguel Samudio (Libertad, Paraguay) and Gustavo Gómez (Libertad, Paraguay)
Midfield: Cristian Riveros (Gremio, Brazil), Víctor Ayala (Lanús, Argentina), Richard Ortiz (Toluca, Mexico), Jonathan Fabbro (River Plate, Argentina), Osvaldo Martínez (América, Mexico), Jorge Rojas (Benfica, Portugal), Wilson Pittoni (Olimpia, Paraguay) and Óscar Romero (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay)
Strikers: Roque Santa Cruz (Málaga, Spain), Edgar Benítez (Toluca, Mexico), Luis Neri Caballero (Krylya Sovetov, Russia), José Ariel Núñez (Osasuna, Spain) and Antonio Sanabria (Barcelona, Spain)
By Ralph Hannah